I'm really not trying to toot my own horn, but this Makeup Artist Showcase series is a lot of fun! Meet Brandalyn!
How Did you Get Started Doing Makeup?
I started doing makeup in 2003 at the Benefit Cosmetics counter my sophomore year in college and shortly after worked at MAC for 4 years.
Did you go to makeup school? Was this a benefit to you? If so, how?
I did not go to makeup school. I went to the University of Michigan started as an Economics major and took Stage Makeup. I dropped out of college for 2 years and then returned and finished by taking classes such as Design Rendering, Color Theory, History of Art, Marketing etc. I took lots of Master Classes in Toronto, DC, and New York with Sam Fine, Jon Hennessey, Billy B, Danessa Myricks, Valente Frazier, James Vincent, just to name a few. I also completed the Wig & Makeup Internship at The Juilliard School
Did you work at any makeup counters? Was this a benefit to you? If so, how?
I started out working at Makeup Counters. I would not have even considered this as a career option if it weren’t for me needing a college job. Working at the counter was a great experience and I still do work special events for makeup companies or to make extra money in between larger projects. The people I worked with at MAC were and still are very instrumental in my life. They taught me so much and working with customers is a skill. Some people who work at counters are trained sales people, but I have been fortunate enough to work with artists, people who care about helping customers find great makeup, educate them, and encourage customers to spend money wisely. I hate that Makeup Artists at makeup counters sometimes get a bad rap. Working at the counter teaches one patience and great customer services skills. When you are able to assess someone’s needs, wants, and desires and help them find a solution, that experience can be useful way beyond applying makeup.
Do you do bridal work? If so, give us details.
I will be honest, yes, I do bridal work, but I do not do a lot of it. Most of my bridal clients are from word of mouth. Since moving to New York, I have worked more in Theater doing wigs and makeup which doesn’t allow me to be available on the weekends. When I lived in Detroit, I did a lot of bridal work. I typically like to work with a few wedding coordinators. We establish a relationship and try to work with great wedding parties. I am working on building the same relationships in New York eventually.
Rates! This is the question people ask about most. How do you deal?
My rates depend on the project and people involved. Because I am strictly freelance, yes I need to be paid, and paid well. I do not try to undercut people in the industry, but I set my rates based on what I need to make in order to survive. I’ve only been in New York for a little over two years and the rates in Manhattan are significantly different and higher than most areas in the country so I am constantly consulting with other artists to keep my rates competitive and within reason. I do not believe in working for free, but I do understand that most people are working within a budget. My portfolio and resume keep growing and my rates do as well.
People always have crazy stories about doing makeup in the worst places! Where's the most unfitting place you've worked?
The most unfitting place was outside an abandoned church drenched in urine for a shoot. It was so sad because the architecture was beautiful, but it was not in use therefore people used it for other reasons. I have also had a model pass out in my arms. Honestly, that was worse than the urine because I was touching up her gloss and she just fell forward, almost knocking me over. She was very tall. Luckily, I caught her.
I’ve been doing makeup since I was 19 so I pretty much grew up with it. I don’t know anything else. My first full time job was being a Makeup Artist. It scary to say this, but it is all I know. This is not a childhood dream. I just started doing makeup and realized one day that I loved it and didn’t want to do anything else. I am glad to be doing something that makes me happy. I see so many people unhappy with their occupation. I am doing what I love.
How do you keep your makeup skills fresh?
I keep my makeup skills fresh by constantly working! The more I work, the more I enhance my skills and keep incorporating new techniques and trends into my work. I am most inspired by the people I work with and the creative process. Whether I am on a photo shoot or working with a Wig & Makeup Designer, Costume Designer, Director, or client their energy excites me. I also love product innovation. It is my goal in life to be a Creative Director so I am always learning about new products or contributing my opinion to companies about products. Working with artists, owners of makeup companies, PR and marketing departments also keeps my skills fresh because I love trying new products and having a constructive opinion.
How do you market yourself?
My most successful form or marketing is doing great work and establishing great relationships. I am so blessed that people refer me for a lot of jobs. I still put in the work by contacting people via email or snail mail. I try to attend events and introduce myself and make sure people know who I am. Its not only about who know you, but about them knowing your skills and what you can do for them. I am always trying to help and offer my services to help others achieve their goals. I drop off and mail resumes and cover letters frequently. I have a comp card. I have a website (www.brandalynfultononline.com), a blog (www.bstandsforbeauty.com), and I am on Twitter (@brandalynfulton), Facebook (www.facebook.com/brandalynfultononline), and Linked In (www.linkedin.com/in/brandalynfulton) . I try to do as much as I can. I love social media and in my next life I probably will be a publicist so I try to incorporate as much marketing and PR strategies as I can in to promoting myself. I have also found the best way to market yourself is to FOLLOW UP.
How did you go about creating your kit? Did you go for pricey and drugstore items? How long did it take you? Did you over-purchase? Do you have things there that you rarely use? What do you use to carry your makeup?
When I first started most of the products in my kit came from the companies I worked for, products available at the local costume shop, or that were available with my department store discount. I remember travelling to Windsor or Toronto to buy makeup hard to get in Detroit like Make Up For Ever and Anna Sui. After attending trade shows like the International Beauty Show in New York and The Makeup Show I started to try out other lines and started to formulate my preferences for makeup. Of course, I spent too much money in the beginning (for the first 3 or 4 years), but as time went on, I became very smart about my purchases. I only bought things I was being hired to use. There is nothing worse than buying makeup for it to sit and never get used. I also started working for lines in different capacities and would receive makeup to try or as nice gesture for my services. I am not partial to any particular brand and never have been, even when I worked for MAC. I believe in using products that work. I don’t care where they come from, however, now that I am starting to take on bigger jobs and have more celebrated clients I believe in having exclusive products that are hard to find. It is part of the ambiance. I also carry a lot of makeup artist friendly products because I believe in carrying a small kit.
Do you have a professional portfolio? Has this helped you?
Yes, I purchased a leather embossed 11 x 14 portfolio from House of Portfolios in 2008. Even though we are all moving digital I still like to keep it up to date just as much as my website. The portfolio with shipping cost about $400. I purchased it from the money I won from the Bennett Career Institute ‘Makeup Artist of the Year’ Competition. I believe in using your profits to really invest in yourself, especially in the beginning. That helped me substantially. It is how I was able to move to New York. When I go on interviews it shows people I mean business. It’s one thing to say go to my website, but it really impresses people when you show them that you made the investment and you can flip through my portfolio the same as a magazine. It also looks great on my coffee table ;-)
Do you have any makeup artist role models? If so, who?
I have so many role models for different reasons. I can’t name them all, but most of my role models are people who are accessible, people who I see around the city, at events, or trade shows frequently. I love when I can remember something they say and see it manifest in my own life. I am a very engaged person so I try to model my life and career around people who are doing great things and engaging and inspiring people along the way.
PORTFOLIO - www.brandalynfultononline.com
Want to be featured in the Makeup Artist Showcase? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I’d like to feature artists from all walks of life, with all levels of experience. Thanks!